Heritage Crafts

Toy making

The making of dolls, toys, games and puzzles etc. including those from wood and metal.
Currently viable
Craft category


Toys have been made since prehistoric times with the earliest ones being made from natural materials like sticks, clay, rocks or in Ancient Greece terracotta or wax. Socially, toys were an important prompt in rites of passages into adulthood. Even some of the earliest toys had intrinsic designs with mechanical features or locks. With the changing status of children during Enlightenment, play started to be seen as an important aspect in children’s development. This sparked the development of more educational games such as puzzles, cards and board games. The industrial era marked the golden age of toy development, which became available even for working class families.


There is no way to summarise the process of toy making because of the endless number of its different forms and global relevance. The materials used range from wood to plastic and techniques of making are often culturally significant and depending on the local craft traditions.


  • Rocking horse making (currently viable – doing fairly well)
  • Dolls house making (currently viable – thriving)
  • Teddy bear making
  • Automata making (currently viable – thriving)

Issues affecting the viability

  • Legislation regarding what is and isn’t a safe toy for children – and the impact this has on toys made for and sold to collectors

Support organisations

Training organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Other information




National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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